Here’s a real story with some fictionalized details:
Two North Americans (Ryan and Joel) had come to India to establish some connections for their new NGO/non-profit (FreshMedics) that markets medical device innovations for rural villages. They had some large financial partners waiting in the background, but wanted to time any announcements of public support with the launch of the product and the plan. Their partners understood this, but were eager to be on the forefront of the launch.
On this trip to India, they were looking to make contacts and meet some manufacturing partners. Knowing the importance of relationships in India, they took advantage of any opportunity they had.
They were introduced to a man named Ganesh, who had done a lot of work in a local village. Most of his work had been through an internationally recognized service organization called SERVIndia.
Ganesh showed Ryan and Joel around the village. They met with the villagers and even participated in a special festival that happened to be that day, including some folk dancing. Everyone had a great time, and Ryan and Joel left extremely thankful for the first-hand look at the village.
The next day, Ryan and Joel opened up their laptops to find an email from Ganesh thanking them for coming to the village. He attached 50 pictures he had taken of the event. In the mail trail, Joel noticed that Ganesh had put together a five-page bulletin about their visit for SERVIndia with the headline “SERVIndia welcomes FreshMedics to Village!” The bulletin had been sent to the national director of SERVIndia, who had already commended Ganesh for his excellent work in the matter. Ganesh had posted the photos on Facebook and tagged Ryan and Joel in all of them in an album titled “SERVIndia and FreshMedics partnering to uplift villages!”
Joel, head of business strategy, begins to panic. He knows that from the outside it will look like FreshMedics and SERVIndia are officially partners and his NGO is promoting SERVIndia. In his last round of talks with some potential big supporters, he told them they were going to be very selective in choosing where their support came from, and did not want to align with any organization without doing an extensive partnering process. He felt that once his potential supporters saw this, he would lose credibility with them and their support as well.
Joel feels betrayed by Ganesh, and feels like he was tricked into promoting SERVIndia, when at the time, it seemed like they were just having a good time.
What should he do?
One Possible Solution:
What he should not do is write to Ganesh and immediately address the issue. This will hurt Ganesh, who was honestly just trying to help build connections for Ryan and Joel. Ganesh sees the connection to SERVIndia as a great asset to them and can’t see why they would not immediately want to accept the friendship and promotion for their new start up (#See1See100). Ganesh is also feeling great because the national director has specifically recognized him for the good work, so to immediately jump into taking everything down would be a mistake.
Ideally, Joel needs to meet with Ganesh for coffee as soon as possible. A personal meeting is preferred because it is unlikely that Joel will be able to tactfully convey their need for privacy with the right tone over an email or phone.
He should first say how great it was to visit the village. He should talk about the great work they are doing in the village, and how beneficial it was to see it firsthand.
Once he has established his gratitude, Joel can slip in his dilemma and ask Ganesh for advice on the matter. He can say something like, “I have some potential partners back home who would be surprised to see our face on a publication from a brand as well-known as SERVIndia. I’m sure you understand the need for us to be a little discreet about this. We appreciate the help you have offered us, but what can we do?”
This way, Ganesh will likely understand the dilemma, but not be put in as awkward of a place as he might have if asked to take everything down immediately. He might suggest that he will write to the director immediately and ask that the bulletin not be circulated to anyone else. He might also suggest that he will send out a follow-up email to his group asking them not to forward on the details. Joel can ask him about the Facebook page, and Ganesh might then say that he can take down the pictures.
At that time, Joel would need to express his gratefulness again at being able to go to the village, and thank Ganesh for understanding the difficult situation he is in. Then, he should definitely say that he would be interested in partnering officially with SERVIndia once things get going, and they could look at doing a launch in the same village in a few months.
What else might you suggest?
Photo Credit: Prince Roy on Flickr